Figures from the Department for Education reveal that one in six children has been given Special Educational Needs (SEN) status by the age of five - but many have not been formally assessed for special needs.
In the first year of primary school 17 per cent of youngsters were diagnosed with special educational needs during the last school year.
The majority of the children were declared to have SEN by the school rather than specialists, raising concerns that some schools label difficult or slower pupils as having special needs to cover up poor teaching and achievement levels.
Out of the 98,755 five-year-olds in state primary schools who were diagnosed with special needs last year, only 6,045 had statements of SEN following a formal assessment.
The other 92,710 – or 16 per cent of their school year – had been deemed SEN by their school for having 'speech, language and communication needs', whilst 18.6 per cent were labelled SEN because of their 'behavioural, emotional and social difficulties'.
The majority of the children without statements are boys, with one in five boys overall being classed as having SEN, compared to one in nine girls.
At secondary school level, male students are three times more likely to be given SEN statements than female pupils.
What do you think? Has your child been given a SEN without formal assessment?
Do you think boys are branded special needs when they may be simply more boisterous than girls?